Do you feel British? Rahul certainly does: he loves the National Trust, cricket, Blur and flag-waving – all perhaps rather unusual for an 18-year-old in 2005. Although his Mum insists on spreading ashes in the Ganges, three generations of Rahul’s family have been born beside the Thames.
It’s a point made perhaps too emphatically – but at least clearly, and it marks the starting point for Vinay Patel’s debut play. Performed single-handedly by Maanuv Thiara and directed by Ed Viney, this short piece is a compelling exploration of one British Asian experience and emergence into adulthood: his university application, first love and political identity.
While Rahul is in Spain on a lads’ holiday, there is news from home: London has secured the Olympic Games, but then come the July 7 attacks. Overnight, attitudes to Rahul change. Caught up in an incident trying to stay loyal to his best friend, Rahul becomes the perpetrator and his early dreams are turned on their head.
By 2012, Rahul has the tired cynicism of someone treated poorly. With more deliberate staging, the contrast with the flashbacks might be even clearer. But this is a long, verbose tongue-twister of a script, which Thiara manages admirably, recreating the other characters with believable accents.
The play is much funnier than the listings suggest, especially with Rahul’s comic asides and imaginative take on political parties as compared to indie bands.
The urban surrounds of Hamilton House are fitting for Blue Brook Productions’ latest offering, with some street noise providing an unplanned soundtrack for the city setting. This is a slick, fast-paced and humorous piece which could move further towards drama with more physical direction. As it is, though, the storytelling is top-notch.
True Brits continues at Hamilton House until Friday, May 19. For more info, visit www.bristol247.com/whats-on/theatre/blue-brook-productions/true-brits-bristol and www.hamiltonhouse.org/event/true-brits/2017-05-16
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